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Rated R
Copyright 1981 Allen Smithee Classic Films
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 13 September 2008

The Characters:  

  • Toby - She is completely put off at the thought of sex. She even wears a button that simply says, "No" on it. Her panties do say, "Yes," but a little disclaimer beneath that reads, "But not with you, or you, or you either. You were never an option. No, not you. Nor you." (it says more, but after that it gets a little hard to read). She dies, I think.
  • Hardy - This poor boy is Toby's quasi-boyfriend. When he is not brooding over the desolate wasteland of his sexual activity, he likes to solve mysteries. He dies, I think.
  • Mr. Dumpkin - The woodshop teacher. Completely infatuated with horse head bookends. How much horse head bookends is too much? This much. Deader than the trees he compulsively turns into bookends.
  • Mr. Peters - The school principal. Not such a bad guy otherwise, if you can ignore the hidden "I Love NY" tattoo. His penchant to doff his clothing when the students' backs are turned is also worrisome. Impaled.
  • Mrs. Mumsley - Old and bitter, like tea leaves. It is probably no mere coincidence that she looks like a mummy.
  • Dr. Sigmund - School psychiatrist who likes it when the female students call him "Daddy." Insanity is either contagious, or this guy is an escaped mental patient who killed the real Dr. Sigmund and assumed his identity.
  • Ms. Van Dyke - Biology teacher and lesbian (or whatever you call a woman who hates the penis).
  • Patti & Scott - Annoying homecoming queen wannabe and her ROTC boyfriend. Neither of them received graduation gifts from their parents, because they died.
  • Julie - She should have said, "No" to sex. Paperclipped to death.
  • Charlie - Only during the 80's (or the 70's, or the 60's) did men need 6.0 hp hair dryers. Suffocated.
  • Malvert - Talk about a skinny and creepy freakpot. He wears coke bottle glasses, refers to himself in the third person, carries a blow-up doll everywhere, and moves like a marionette suspended from a tree during a thunderstorm.
  • The Breather - Richard Belzer! Actually, this character, who never appears on the screen (we only see the action from the murderer's POV), is one or more of the persons described above. Even after the killer(s) is/are revealed, it does not make a lot of sense.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Most people who have seen "Student Bodies" remember three things about the film. The first is the killer's heavy breathing. The Breather pants, huffs and puffs, and gasps his way through every murder. He also permeates the telephone system with his lurid respiration. If anyone picks up a phone, we are sure to hear heavy breathing on the line. The second thing people remember is the running body count that flashes on the screen whenever a new victim is discovered. Fatal mistakes, such as unlocked doors, are also highlighted by text flashing on the screen. Lastly, previous viewers of "Student Bodies" remember horse head bookends. This is largely due to Mr. Dimpkin's crusade to make a horse head bookend for every household in America. Mr. Dimpkin has what anyone (except himself) would consider an unhealthy fixation with horse head bookends. At one point, Toby sees the woodshop teacher giving a horse head bookend a drink at a water fountain. That quickly develops into a chase, with the poor girl running down the hall as the deranged teacher chucks horse head bookends at her.

There, I typed the term "horse head bookends" no less than six times in the last six sentences. My inner Dimpkin is appeased.

The movie begins with a young lady, Julie, babysitting on what has to be the worst night of the year: Jamie Lee Curtis' birthday. She receives a couple of obscene phone calls (heavy breathing - go figure), but brushes them off and goes to the kitchen to get something to eat. She is just about to really tear into a piece of fried chicken when Charlie scares her half to death. The two teenagers decide to have sex, as soon as possible. The broken piece of chicken is left on the floor, forgotten, as the pair dashes up the stairs.

Worry not for the wayward leg of fowl, my friend. In time the house's master doth return, and makes right what a young maiden left wrong in her haste to soothe her consort's thirst for love. A single band of rubber wrapped about the drumstick, and 'twas better than whence new it came from the market.

Take note: that could be Shakespeare.

As Julie and Charlie prepare themselves for sexual intercourse, the Breather enters the house. He opens a rolltop desk to reveal a collection of deadly instruments. A pistol, knives, a noose, some poison, and a hatchet are all laid out in neat order. Where is this girl babysitting? A district attorney's house? If that is the case, why does the DA bring so much of his work home with him? Anyway, the Breather (like a fat kid in a candy store) finally selects an implement of violence. He picks a paperclip. Julie finds out the hard way that paperclips are lethal in the hands of a determined individual.

Charlie is stuffed into a black trash bag; he suffocates. Indeed, every sexually hopeful young man killed in the course of the film is dispatched by Hefty asphyxiation.

The funeral for Charlie and his nearly beloved Julie is a grave occasion. The school's marching band plays muted tunes, the cheerleaders carry black pom-poms, and the graveyard is decorated with black balloons. Unfortunately, all of this morbid ceremony gives two of the students a case of the teenage lust. They sneak off to have sex in a car, and the Breather gets them. Another carnally trysting couple falls prey during the big parade. By now, people are starting to notice a common thread among the victims: all of them are friends of Toby.

Toby has not killed anybody that she knows of, so Mr. Peters sends her to Dr. Sigmund's office for analysis. The doctor's conclusion is inconclusive; probably because he is too wrapped up in his own problems to help the female student with her own. Isn't that the way it always was in high school? You try to tell the guidance counselor what is bothering you, but the old hag is not listening. All she seems to care about is that she found some other woman's panties in her husband's desk drawer, and that her mom was just diagnosed with cancer. What about you? You need to get out of that algebra class. The homework takes an hour, and Mrs. Decaton keeps surprising you with pop quizzes every Monday morning. If you fail the class your dad is going flip. Adults suck.

After the parade is the big football game, and another big murder takes place. Funny as it is to see a girl choke to death on an eraser, the hot dog vendor is my hero. This dude is just wrong. The vendor suddenly stuffs a hot dog into the mouth of this guy in the crowd; before the man can react to being forced to munch hot dog, the vendor pulls out a bottle of mustard and sprays the poor fellow in the face! The look on the man's face was priceless.

By now the entire school is certain that Toby is the killer. She goes on the lam. Toby knows that the killer will strike again at the big school dance, so she disguises herself as Sandy from "Grease" (coming off more like "Grease 2") and snoops around the Principal's office. The movie really bogs down for a while. Even though the Breather does finally off Patti and Scott (thank you, thank you, thank you), and I did chuckle over Mr. Dimpkin ordering the faceless killer to clean and oil the chainsaw, before Mr. Dimpkin went to that big horse head bookend factory in the sky, I had a hard time staying interested.

Just when it appears that the killer(s) has/have been unmasked, Toby wakes up and a silly scene inspired by "The Wizard of Oz" plays out - and that's still not the end. The movie finally finishes what it was trying to do (lampoon the slasher genre) with a scene inspired by all those superhuman killers out there who refuse to stay dead.

You know what? The Breather was right. Toby does look like Prince Valiant.


School is back in session, and this roundtable's theme is the bad movies that plague higher education. Click on the banner for the supersoaker page.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Ducks make pretty good guard dogs.
  • Rotary phones fell out of style because they contained potentially harmful materials, such as a poltergeist.
  • You cannot wash off herpes (Editor's Note: Irish Spring might wash off herpes, just because it is so darn fresh).
  • ADT also manufactures chewing gum.
  • There is nothing worse than being interrogated by an old-school county sheriff in the office of your school's principal.
  • Under every set of football stadium bleachers is a crying Indian.
  • Death causes flatulence.
  • The key to dealing with sexual repression is a properly maintained scroll saw.
  • Marbles are a solid spheroid at room temperature.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • Opening Credits - The director of photography's name must be an amalgam.
  • 6 mins - Those sheets are every teenager's worst nightmare. Any type of wet and wild sex on them is going to leave obvious visual clues to the sordid activity thereupon.
  • 20 mins - Okay, I am officially freaked out.
  • 28 mins - What did he just say to the audience?
  • 35 mins - That is the fun part.
  • 37 mins - Oh my, it is the blind wheeling the paraplegic.
  • 46 mins - Notice the exceptional police work that is being demonstrated here.
  • 48 mind - I wish that illustration of a vagina, or rectum, or whatever it is would stop hogging the camera.
  • 56 mins - "All I am saying is that I like you as a bawdy bar tramp."
  • 80 mins - The most important thing to consider is that losing your virginity here is going to result in you remembering, for the rest of your life, the feeling of dry leaves stuck to your backside.

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note studentbodies1.wav Girl: "Stop. How can you think of sex now?"
Boy: "I can never stop thinking about it. Funerals get me hot."
Green Music Note studentbodies2.wav Dimpkin: "With rape and violence rampant in this land, with human flesh cheapened and vulgarized, one of the last bastions of decency is the general satisfaction one gains from making a horse head bookend."
Green Music Note studentbodies3.wav Toby: "Goodbye, and thanks for your confidence in me, Mr. Peters."
Mr. Peters: "Not really confidence, my dear. I think you're crazy."
Green Music Note studentbodies4.wav Sherriff: "Wait a minute. Now, he could be our man. Look at him! Look at him! He's got blood on his hands!"
Malvert: "No, since accident, Malvert pee red. You know good urologist?"
(Phone rings.)
Ms. Van Dyke: "I'll get it. I'm farthest from the phone."
Mrs. Mumsley: "That makes sense."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipstudentbodies1.mpg - 5.0m
The Breather was lurking in the girls' locker room, and he started chasing Toby. He regretted going after a fast runner.

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